- the New Zealand's capital of the fjords. It takes about 2.5-3 hours on a winding mountain road, although the distance in a straight line from Queenstown to Milford Sound is only 80 kilometers.
The New Zealanders were actively discussing the construction of the cable car from Queenstown to Milford Sound at that moment. I can not insist, but perhaps it will be the longest cable car in the world. Milford Sound is also one of the most uninhabited places on earth, and, in my opinion, the word "fjord" is used only for the Norwegian and New Zealand coves.
You often meet such bridges on the South Island - when the two-lane road turns over the river into the one-lane road, and someone has to wait and let the oncoming traffic cross the bridge.
The road to Milford Sound passes through stunningly beautiful places. Snowy mountain peaks hiding in the fog, deserted mountain lakes with small villages along the shores and seaplanes standing sometimes on the water.
There's a very beautiful and picturesque valley of the Ellington River. Tourist buses constantly stop here.
Snow-covered peaks of the Alps of New Zealand proudly hide behind the clouds.
Mountain rivers with crystal clear water run beneath in the sunlight.
Mirror Lakes were the next stop of my tour. Snow-capped mountains are well reflected in the clear water.
When approaching Milford Sound, you can see traces of avalanches on the rocks and a lot of waterfalls with crystal clear cool mountain water.
You have a chance to see the endemic of the New Zealand's South Island here - the mountain parrot called Kea. According to one version of scientists, it is the most intelligent bird on our planet, it can be meticulous about the three- or four-step combinations. Its intelligence is even equate to intelligence of a six-month old child.
I was lucky, I saw the bird near one of the numerous mountain streams. There were as many as three individuals of Kea wandering by the stream. This is the only parrot in the world with a comfortable habitat at an altitude of 1,600 meters above sea level. Later I found out that this stream was called the Monkey Creek - this is the place where you can always meet these wonderful birds.
It's strictly prohibited to feed the parrots, as it is believed that if you teach the bird to take food from people, it may become lazy and unable to procure food in the natural environment, so it may die.
You can safely drink the water from the streams here, I would even recommend to take empty bottles with you to take the water for the trip.
Then there is the Homer Tunnel on the way. There's almost no light in it. There are just a couple of minutes left to Milford Sound after passing this tunnel. It was hard to get to Milford Sound before the opening of the tunnel in 1953, and after it was built, the number of tourists in the region has increased dramatically.
The New Zealanders set traps for martens along the way. Martens had never inhabited the "green islands", they were brought here to get rid of rats and other rodents. Martens eat eggs of the feathered birds such as kiwi, the kea parrot and the New Zealanders kill them mercilessly and aim to complete their extermination.
Most of the bridges at the entrance to Milford Sound have one lane, nobody thought of the high intensity of traffic in these places during their construction. Even now it hardly can be called the high one.
. English Captain James Cook sailed several times by the Western coast of the South Island and never saw the fjord. It was really difficult to see a narrow 16 km long ocean strait when sailing in a mile from the shore. A lot of tourists come here to go on this cruise along the fjord in the Tasman Sea.
Before the cruise, I would recommend all tourists to rub yourself with a repellent. There are many Te Namu - flies discovered by Captain Cook in the 18th century. It gnaws a small piece of flesh, injects some poison in it and the wound starts to itch for a very long time. This fly is shown close-up in a terminal building, like another reminder before the cruise.
Pleasure boats take tourists from the port of Milford Sound on the tour of the Tasman Sea. You can sail for 2-3 hours, as I did, but there are also cruises for 2-3 days with accommodation in cabins, when the pleasure boat also calls in the completely quiet and unspoiled Doubson Sound fjord with stops for fishing.
Here's a map of the fjord we were going to sail along.
The ship departed and the port of Milford Sound was left behind. I saw only small pleasure boats in the port, but large ocean liners also come here during cruises from Australia.
Milford Sound fjord abounds with wildlife and has lots of waterfalls.
Rainbow occurs pretty often here.
You can wander along the mountain trails in these mountains. Most of them start from Te Anau - a town which lies on the way to Milford Sound and is a starting point of all eco-tours of the New Zealand fjords.
In order to "wander" in these mountains, it is necessary to register yourself, so that the rangers know exactly how many people are there on the trails in the mountains in case of any natural disaster. The trails are equipped with special camps, where travelers can spend the night. Registration is also required in these points.
Opponents of the construction of the cable car from Queenstown to Milford Sound also say that if the project is completed, Te Anau will lose its meaning and the entire tourist industry there will come to naught. Because no one will detour and other starting points for hiking are likely to be organized in Milford Sound.
Here it is - an entrance to the Tasman Sea missed by the Captain James Cook.
Many tourists travel along the fjord with young children.
The ship has a detailed map of the New Zealand's fjords of the South Island.
Waterfall in the photo does not seem so huge, and its height in reality is more than 100 meters.
, you can see seals, dolphins and whales. Unfortunately, I saw only the first ones.
The sound has an underwater observatory for the underwater world observation. Some pleasure boats make a stop here. You can observe the underwater world at a depth of 11 meters. You can even see the black corals, which are considered very rare.